Time for Renewal and Change

A lot has happened over these past few months. I have been torn away from my friends and family in Wake Forest/Raleigh, moved back to a less-familiar community, and been thrown into situations to make me grow into the man God desires me to be. It has been a very sweet time of growing closer with my family, something that I have not cherished like I ought. It has been a much-needed season of rest, discipline, and maturing.

Maturity, in my life, has come about through significant changes. I’m sure that you can relate no matter your background. A new job comes along, you meet someone special, school starts, or you move to a totally new area. You and I learn to just roll with whatever comes our way; some have just had more practice.

The Pauley family will no longer be living in the Rocky Mount area. We are awaiting God’s plan and direction to unfold for us. These past 5 years at Englewood Baptist Church have been a sweet time to grow closer to Christ and other believers in the church. I say this all with mixed emotions because this move is full of contradictions. It is simultaneously uncertain and exciting, sorrowful and enlightening. Like many other moves in my life, there will be friends that are sad or hurting. But the best response is a godly response, one that asks honest questions to the All-Knowing God who can answer it in His timing.

 We are growing in Christ while learning to trust him more. Nathan will be a freshman at Liberty University and traveling with a ministry team. I will be in Wake Forest continuing my education at Southeastern Seminary. There will be updates over time; with that, I will close with a passage from Scripture.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
26 For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Romans 8:18, 26-30

 

Staying Single (and being okay with it)

This isn’t going to be another blog about being single, hating PDA between couples, or a pointless/senseless rant. I want to simply remind you of the gospel.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He created the man (Hebrew, ha-adam) in the Imago Dei. God told Adam to eat of any tree “except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.'”

God created Eve to accompany Adam, to help him. They were created to be one flesh. A marriage is simply that, a man laying down his life for his bride just as Christ has exemplified for us. If this post is about being single, why start with marriage? I want to point out that marriage is a good thing. Singleness is also a good thing.

I’m sure that we have all seen our friends/relatives get into relationships, go through a season of being engaged, and finally getting married. I’ve seen this happen more times than I would like to admit. It has taught me something: looking at others’ relationships should not necessarily dictate my own. Where I am in life, I do not see myself getting married anytime soon. I’ve been learning that this season is for my growth and maturity so that I can be prepared for whatever lies in store for my life. Could God give me the gift of marriage? Absolutely. But for now I am learning how to grow and mature as a son of God.

I trust that he will show his plan in a future spouse (either confirming singleness or marriage). Marriage is a gift. Singleness is also a gift [see the verse to follow]. Both of them occur in seasons (of remaining celibate for life or transitioning into marriage for life). I want to break a stereotype. I hope that Scripture will shed some light on this subject and support the view I hold about marriage. Paul writes to the church of Corinth:

“Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband… 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
1 Corinthians 7:1-9, emphasis mine.

There are so many rich parts about this passage. Paul explicitly says that he has been given the gift of celibacy. He also mentions, not once but twice, that it is good for a man to be single if God has given him this gift. I immediately see that this interpretation is not true for many in my life (Christians and non-Christians alike). While it is not good for man to be alone, God is still more than enough. The reality is that God can do an incredible work in your life whether you have a spouse or not; sometimes His means are with a spouse, others not. After all, one of the main purposes of marriage is to make you holy instead of just settling to make you happy.
Another thing we see in this passage is that Paul was single. Paul, the man who wrote fourteen of the twenty-seven New Testament books. Paul, one of the most influential apostles in the First Century. Paul was single. God used Paul’s singleness to bring about a great work for the Church, His Bride.

With this passage called to mind, should we still use phrases like these? “I can’t wait to see the man/woman God has in store for you,” “Have you prayed about it/tried online dating/put yourself out there?” or “Do you have anyone special?”
I hope my point is clear that singleness is not a disease. Singleness is a misunderstood gift that needs to be re-embraced and understood how God intends for it to be. We, as the Church, need to address relationships through the lens of Scripture before consulting worldly authority.
I want to clarify that I am not saying marriage is a bad thing, but marriage should not be the default standard. Read 1 Corinthians 7:26-28 to see that marriage is a good gift from God that includes worldly troubles.

For more on the subject:

Coming to a Pause

Change is a necessary part of life. Without change, nothing moves. There is no growth and no advancement apart from change. One of the key problems with change is attitude in response to a situation. We can look to God who is in control or collapse inward and worship our comfort, the idols of the heart.

I feel like the world that I have come to know is screeching to a halt. I contemplate the things that I’ve done right and question the things I have done wrong. There will always be responsibilities I neglected and opportunities I chose to take for granted. I’ve made so many decisions, good and bad, over the years since coming to college. I have joined a church that comforts and challenges me in my faith. I have had the privilege to study who God is, who I am in relation to God, find things in life that make me passionate, and grow as both a leader and a disciple. I have seen exponential growth after seasons of uncertainty and pain, only to realize that God has been working all along. This season will be no different.

My time in the Wake Forest area is going to be put on pause for an unknown amount of time. I have some areas in my life that need attention. In the mean time, I know life will go on without me. Lord-willing, I will continue to grow in every dimension and pursue ultimate joy that can be only found in him.
I’m reminded of a lesson I learned this summer during City Project: my success, day to day, is not found through what I accomplish nor the goals I reach. It isn’t found in career advancements nor money, intellect nor power. My worth and identity is found in Christ; my success is to only be found in Knowing God and Loving Others.

Experiencing Darkness

It had all started as a normal day during City Project. We had arrived in New York City the Saturday before to stay in a shelter, share the gospel with unbelievers, and be trained by strategic missionaries. Most of the training and planning was useless at this point…

A friend and I were assigned a specific Muslim group in Queens. Conversations had to be started, but we had to be authentic. Both of us agreed to go to one of the mosques for the evening salat (prayer) in order to start conversations. We entered the dark building confused and unsure of what would take place.
“Why are you here?” one of the men asked. “We are curious about other religions and want to learn more about Islam,” we responded with deep sincerity. We proceeded through wudu (washings) in order to enter the ceremony. Face, ears, arms, hands, feet, then hands again. With bare feet proceeding to the prayer hall, I prayed with a heavy heart to the only God who has ears to hear our cries. My friend and I sat in the corner to observe (not partake) in the ceremony. With every tick of the clock, my heart grew heavier; my heart literally felt like it was going to burst. Tears began to roll down my face only for me to wipe them away in light of my surroundings. I felt the need to share just a few of my thoughts and burdens.

  • How many Christians see these men, young and old, and never share of the redemptive work they have experienced?
  • How many Believers, like myself, are more concerned with politics, Soteriology, or personal agenda than the eternity of God’s beloved?
  • Do professing Christians truly “[look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross”? If so, why do they walk away and not long to endure the same struggle for unsaved?

Paul said “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers.” Do we bear the same burden as this sinner saved by grace? 

A recognizable pattern in my life and through Scripture is looking to God and leaving with a new sense of purpose. Take Saul who transformed into Paul; Moses and the burning bush; Israel looking to the bronze serpent; or Jacob (Israel) wrestling with God. All of these accounts point to series of darkness/trouble, encountering God, and leaving remarkably changed. I share about this dark experience because in these moments, I was tested to love my neighbor, put their needs before my own, and allow God to bring about salvation. It may not be easy, but it certainly is worth it. James also shows us why we endure trials.

“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
James 1:2-5

Not everyone is called to live as a vocational missionary to the Unreached People Groups of the world. Some are, but not everyone. Instead, we are called to make disciples of all [tribes, tongues, and] nations. If we don’t go, how will they hear? More importantly, if we do not petition on their behalf nor expect God to move, how can we ever expect God to work through us? Challenge: be willing to experience trials and darkness for someone else’s soul. This example is found in Jesus; is it found in you?

Book Review of Rediscovering the Church Fathers by Michael A. G. Haykin

landonpauley:

Pretty accurate book review in my opinion. This book is worth reading to get a basic taste of the Church Fathers.

Originally posted on Living To Make Jesus Famous:

Haykin, Michael A. G. Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Kindle edition. 176 pp. $11.99.

 

Introduction

For the most part, the evangelical community in twenty-first century America accepts a rootless Christianity.  Evangelicals mostly sing worship songs which were written in the past twenty years.  They typically consider a book somewhat dated by its tenth birthday.  Michael A. G. Haykin’s book helps correct that idea of rootless Christianity.  Having a Th.D. in Church History from the University of Toronto, over two decades experience as a professor, and authored or edited more than twenty-five books; Haykin uses his expertise to write an introduction to his favorite theological discipline.

Summary

To begin, Haykin provides brief argumentation as to why Christians should engage in the oft-neglected study of the church fathers.  The Fathers deliver Christians from the captivity of present-day blind…

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Prayer for CP Taiwan Team

My team is in the air right now on our way to Taiwan! Please pray for us:

Pray that God would use this process to teach us to love Him above all else. (Matthew 22:37-40)
Pray that the nations would come to know Him as Lord. (Acts 17:24-27)
Pray for the field partners, that God would continue use them and give them favor with the people.
Pray God would use us to serve the field partners well.
Pray that the Holy Spirit would go before us and prepare the hearts of the people we will interact with.

Open-minded gospel

“The gospel does not say, ‘the good are in and the bad are out,’ nor ‘the open-minded are in and the judgemental are out.’ The gospel says the humble are in and the proud are out. The gospel says the people who know they’re not better, not more open-minded, not more moral than anyone else, are in, and the people who think they’re on the right side of the divide are most in danger.”
-Tim Keller, Jesus The King

New York City: Learning and Growing

Last week, Summit College traveled to New York City to expand efforts to reach the nations. As you may know, New York is a large and diverse city with thousands of languages and representation from every continent. Our mission? Three simple steps.

The gospel changing students.
Our team had a week of orientation; gospel training, evangelism techniques, and studying people groups. But none of that would prepare us for the daily battle for our souls. Nothing can replace the importance of the gospel in our lives first. Without it, we are just another group of people in the big city. No direction, no sense of purpose, and no power to accomplish the work ahead. With the gospel, we’ve been given an identity (child of God), mission (to make disciples of all nations), and the Spirit of God which “[equips] you with everything good for doing his will.” (Hebrews 13:21) This week had a literal transformation on my life.

Part of our daily agenda was to go to individual neighborhoods, love on people, and share our faith. I was with a group in Astoria, Queens, NY. This community is predominantly Bangladeshi Muslim. One day while I was sharing with a friend, I was completely overwhelmed. My pride had gotten the better of me before a conversation filled with rejection and bitterness. I walked away speechless. It took a solid five minutes of prayer and tears for God to teach me something: All my efforts to save people are in vain if the Spirit is not working in my life as well. God may use us, but he changes our hearts in the process.

20140530_194806Orientation week in Durham– Mitch reminding us of the gospel story. 


Students serving cities.
Our team of over fifty college students traveled to New York City with three primary objectives in mind: encouraging missionaries, equipping local believers, and evangelizing the lost. We stayed at the New York School of Urban Ministry (pictured below) while partnering with Global Gates Ministry. This incredible ministry has a large hand in the gospel being proclaimed in NYC.

20140601_173233


Christ sending laborers.
Christ has sent us to make disciples for our lifetime. This means locally and internationally. Matthew 9:38 reads “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Already the Lord is preparing the hearts for the gospel to be shared. He simply asks that you obey and be teachable; when we learn and obey, this will produce disciples.

20140606_134605Arab mosque in Astoria, NY–overpacked during one of the five daily prayer times.

Oswald Chambers put it this way:
“If you believe in Jesus, you are not to spend all your time in the calm waters just inside the harbor, full of joy, but always tied to the dock. You have to get out past the harbor into the great depths of God, and begin to know things for yourself—begin to have spiritual discernment… It is a dangerous thing to refuse to continue learning and knowing more.”

Preparing for New York

I can’t believe the time has come. One day. Tomorrow, the Summit College teams make their way to the heart of New York City, NY. After months of prayer, planning, and preparation, it’s time for this group to take flight. After a full day of orientation and detailed discussion about the big city, I came away with a few points I wanted to share.

  • Gospel foundation is vital.
    We literally have nothing to share or preach without the Gospel. The Good News we graciously share is about the life-changing work which has happened within us. To have an unclear vision of Christ brings about death. We were created to shine brightly and adore in our Creator God (Matthew 5:14-16).
  • Strategy is key.
    Going into a mission field completely blind is not God’s plan. Think about the strategic location and cultures within New York City. Largest city in the United States; Thousands of people groups (many of which are unengaged) with their personal sphere of influence; Diversity in cultures, languages, and social statuses while maintaining the “New York pride.” With all this in mind, God desires that our preparation and labor not be in vain (Philippians 2:14-16). But bear in mind that strategy, when idolized, produces vain actions. All the planning in the world will not bring souls to Christ without the Holy Spirit working.
  • Projects are not the end goal… people are!
    This one has taken a while to get through my head. I constantly struggle with the desire to please God and run the race set before me… but if I run a race with blinders on, I miss the point of the entire journey which is to see Christ more clearly through His working. People are the objective of the gospel movement. Jesus cleansed the lepers (Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45), healed blind men (John 9; Mark 8:22-25), and rose the dead from the grave (John 11). He did all of these miracles with people as the primary goal – in reaching people through physical needs, he glorified the Father through spiritual means.
    In the same way, we are called to reach the nations as people, NOT as a project.